Monday, April 25, 2016

Book Reviews . . . and Who is Kalei-O-Mano

You've just finished reading a book that entertained you over a period of twenty-four hours or seven days. Everyone has their own pattern. Some pick up a book at bedtime for a half hour of reading, others don't set the book down until they reach "The End".

Whatever your preference, why would you want to take the time to write a review of the book? You liked it. You plan to call your friend and discuss it over the telephone. Your reading group at Starbucks is eager to hear your opinion of the story. Isn't that enough?


Actually, word-of-mouth is a terrific means of promoting a book you like. Who better to recommend a book than someone who read it and was entertained by it, maybe even used it to escape the duties of daily life for a time. Fiction is meant to "take the reader for a ride" away from the normal stress of everyday activities.

A word-of-mouth recommendation is, in essence, an audio book review. Any author would be most grateful to know you are discussing their latest book, or even the one they wrote five years ago. Contrary to popular belief, some authors do have considerable egos. (Even Stephen King still wants to know you liked his latest installment in horror.)
Reviews on Goodreads and Amazon
Other ways to show your support for an author is to post a review on Amazon (no, it is not illegal to post a review if you borrowed the book from a friend.)
Recently, a reader enjoyed all of the short stories and decided to write a review for the anthology MYSTERY IN PARADISE 13 Tales of Suspense. Each story is set in Hawai'i and written by an author living in or having strong ties to the 50th state. (You're right, that is why it's called Hawaii 5-0).
Before writing the review, though, the reader had a question about one of the stories and emailed the author for clarification. The short story is entitled TOURISTS and the author is Lehua Parker (aka Michelle Lehua Parker of Facebook.)
The reader's Quiry:
Hi Lehua,
I'm reviewing the stories in Mystery in Paradise. I loved yours, but am puzzled as to why you chose the name Kalei for the shark man when, according to mythology, his name was Nanaue.
Please let me know.
(Reader's name withheld)
Lehua's Response:
Hi (Reader's name withheld),

Thanks for your question. The simplest answer is that the story is not about the traditional myth of Nanaue. While the legends of Nanaue and Kamohoali’i are the most well-known shark man-stories in Hawaii, there are many tales throughout the Pacific about literal sharks, aumakua sharks, demi-god sharks, and chiefs who are shark-like. Building upon those traditions, Tourists is actually an adult side story to a middle grade/young adult series I write called the Niuhi Shark Saga. One Boy, No Water; One Shark, No Swim; and One Truth, No Lie are all set on Oahu in fictional Lauele Town where Hawaiian myths, gods, and legends are real and exist beneath the radar of most of the humans. The series is centered around a boy who is allergic to water. His name is Alexander Kaonakai Westin, but he’s called Zader. Throughout the series, Zader discovers who he really is and why his biological family hid him in Lauele Town.  

In this world, there are Niuhi who have the ability to appear as human on land or as sharks in the ocean. (In Hawaiian, niuhi is the word used to describe a shark big enough to attack a human and is usually translated as a large tiger shark.) Kalei is a character in the series. His full name is Kalei-O-Mano, which refers to a war club ringed with shark’s teeth or a shark’s mouth. In the series, he’s a scary bad dude who is mostly called The Man with Too Many Teeth by Zader. By the time his name is revealed, it’s very clear that the series is not a retelling of Nanaue, so there’s no confusion with Kalei-O-Mano and Kalei the maiden in the most well-known version of the Nanaue legend. In this short story I just called him Kalei because it’s simple and what he’d probably tell a tourist—and really didn’t consider there might be confusion with the Nanaue legend.  

Kahana and Ilima are also characters in the series, and I wrote Tourists to give adults a different perspective to consider as they read the Niuhi Shark Saga. While the publisher pigeon-holed the series as MG/YA because of Zader’s age, the series is read by as many adults as kids. 

In my head, I have lots of stories set in Lauele Town that are adult-themed, and someday I hope to write them all down and publish them under another pen name, Jace Hunter. As Jace Hunter I publish speculative horror fiction for adults. As Lehua I publish children’s literature, and as you know, Tourists isn’t for children. I originally published it as Lehua because of the tie to the Niuhi Shark Saga series, but I’ve since rethought that decision. A revised version of Tourists will soon be available as an audiobook by Jace Hunter, narrated by Michelle Parker.

Hope this answers your questions. As for your review, first of all, thank you!, and secondly, please feel free to write whatever you wish in your review. A hui hou!

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